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The Final Humiliation Of Jonah Lehrer

The disgraced writer gives a defeated speech for a $20,000 fee — in front of a massive screen of tweets making fun of him.

At a Knight Foundation event in Miami, disgraced writer Jonah Lehrer delivered a public apology, speaking for the first time at length about his various fabrications and plagiarism. “My failures were my fault alone,” he said in the grueling speech. “I have learned a difficult truth about myself; I have learned about parts of me that I tried for too long not to see,” he said. “But entangled in that truth is a possibility for improvement. Not redemption, not forgiveness.” He blamed arrogance for his mistakes, and admitted he might not yet be cured of it.

The speech was steeped in regret, Lehrer sounding more like a recovering alcoholic than a contrite professional. Making matters worse was the massive screen behind him, which projected uncensored tweets about Lehrer as he spoke.

They were pointedly harsh — some, from the writer who publicized Lehrer’s fabrications, Michael C. Moynihan, accused him of making things up in real time:


Staffer at Wired told me that mag wanted JL to write “the science of why I lied.” Apparently this is that piece #infoneeds— Michael C Moynihan


Lehrer keeps lying MT @mcmoynihan: Not during “fact check” that Glaser quote was discovered. I pointed it out. #infoneeds— Michael Noer

The stream appeared to be uncensored — a test Twitter post with the #infoneeds hashtag appeared in just a few seconds — and the tweets were relentless. The screen changed the event from an apology into a ritual humiliation:

My soul apparently contains a disappointing lack of forgiveness. #infoneeds

— jetjocko (@Adam Rogers)

My soul apparently contains a disappointing lack of forgiveness. #infoneeds— Adam Rogers

No more Lehrer. Inexcusable to offer him platform, give easy q's, no outrage, intellectualize total lack of ethics. Infuriating! #infoneeds

— Douglas_Main (@Douglas Main)

No more Lehrer. Inexcusable to offer him platform, give easy q’s, no outrage, intellectualize total lack of ethics. Infuriating! #infoneeds— Douglas Main

Lehrer keeps lying MT @mcmoynihan: Not during "fact check" that Glaser quote was discovered. I pointed it out. #infoneeds

— michaelnoer (@Michael Noer)

Lehrer keeps lying MT @mcmoynihan: Not during “fact check” that Glaser quote was discovered. I pointed it out. #infoneeds— Michael Noer

Lehrer talks like ease of fabricating quotes is ever-present temptation for all journalists. Does he really think that? #infoneeds

— jeffbercovici (@Jeff Bercovici)

Lehrer talks like ease of fabricating quotes is ever-present temptation for all journalists. Does he really think that? #infoneeds— Jeff Bercovici

Jonah Lehrer boring people into forgiving him for his plagiarism.#infoneeds

— JoeHeim (@Joe Heim)

Jonah Lehrer boring people into forgiving him for his plagiarism.#infoneeds— Joe Heim

I fail to understand either why the Knight Foundation is giving this jackass a stage or why I can't stop watching #infoneeds

— michaelnoer (@Michael Noer)

I fail to understand either why the Knight Foundation is giving this jackass a stage or why I can’t stop watching #infoneeds— Michael Noer

Lehrer was reportedly paid $20,000 for the appearance.

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